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St. Lawrence County wins years old foreclosure battle with Gouverneur property owner

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CANTON — An ongoing legal battle over the foreclosure of tax liens between St. Lawrence County and the former owner of a Gouverneur property has come to a close, with the county on the winning side.

In a Jan. 29 decision and order by the State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, a 2013 appeal by YNGH LLC and YNRH LLC owner Peter L. Hoffman — seeking the return of $229,888.84 that was turned over to the county — has been denied.

Mr. Hoffman previously owned Butternut Hill apartment complex and was ordered to pay back taxes on the property by St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards to St. Lawrence County in 2013.

The money was placed in escrow on July 10, 2013, including taxes owed to the village of Gouverneur from 2009 to 2012.

In 2009, Mr. Hoffman sued the village, alleging overcharges for water, unequal treatment based on fees for different multi-unit complexes and for imposing a rate that he said was not legally adopted.

Now-retired state Supreme Court Justice David R. Demarest granted the village summary judgement on the matter in 2013 and dismissed the action.

Mr. Hoffman appealed to the Third Department and in October 2014, Judge Demarest’s decision was reversed and the case was sent back to St. Lawrence County Supreme Court, where it remains pending.

When Mr. Hoffman refused to pay water and sewer charges to the municipality, those charges became part of delinquent taxes which were returned to St. Lawrence County, said County Attorney Stephen D. Button.

The county reimbursed Gouverneur and included the unpaid village tax in the foreclosure proceeding.

On Aug. 7, 2013, Mr. Hoffman filed the appeal seeking a return of those funds.

Mr. Button said he filed a motion to dismiss the YNGH LLC and YNRH LLC appeals in May after Mr. Hoffman attempted to stall the court’s decision in the appeal for more than two years.

The May motion to dismiss was denied, but was finally granted after Mr. Button said he renewed that motion on Dec. 23.

“Obviously St. Lawrence County is pleased that this matter has come to a conclusion after essentially five years of culminating in this moment, we are pleased to be on the winning side,” Mr. Button said.

Mr. Hoffman was unable to be reached for comment.

YNGH and YNRH’s position was that the county and the village of Gouverneur were united in interest in moving forward in this matter, Mr. Button said.

“And that the result from the village of Gouverneur litigation that YNGH and YNRH are currently involved in in the State Supreme Court would have direct bearing on the result of any appeal that St. Lawrence County and YNGH and YNRH could be potentially involved in,” Mr. Button said.

“Our position was that the foreclosure matter was separate and distinct from any potential breach of contract action that YNGH may still be able to maintain in the Supreme Court against the village of Gouverneur,” Mr. Button said. “Clearly the Third Department disagreed with this position and we are pleased with the outcome.”

Article source: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news05/st-lawrence-county-wins-years-old-foreclosure-battle-with-gouverneur-property-owner-20160229

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